Charlton Park put behind them their poor performance from the previous week when last Saturday they won their first game of the season with a four try defeat of Gosport & Fareham.
From the beginning of the game Charlton looked a lot more positive and several driving plays saw the bulk of play in the opening minutes taking place in the visitor’s’ half and indications of better play at the break down from Charlton was evident. Despite ample possession of the ball Charlton were unable to utilise their bright start.
With their forwards beginning to seize the initiative Charlton began to create good field position and increase the pressure on Gosport with both Rob Saunderson and Ross McManus making telling driving runs. Unfortunately however Charlton’s failure to control the ball at the critical moment cost them dearly as Gosport were able to neutralise the threat.
It was following good disruptive play at the base of a scrum that finally created Charlton’s first score of the game; when following them being awarded a penalty they kicked for possession and when the ensuing maul was collapsed a moment of quick thinking from Lee Amzaleg when another penalty was give, tap the ball and dart through centre of a group of players to score the first try of the match.
Now playing with confidence Charlton then began to play to with flair and following a phased drive a long cut out pass from fly half Alex Miller put his fellow backs into space and it required a good last ditch tackle five metres from their goal line by Gosport deny Charlton a second try.
It was at a scrum ten metres from Gosport goal line quick thinking from Saunderson saw him score Charlton’s second try when, when following driving Gosport backwards when a penalty was awarded against the visitors a quick tap saw him drive over from close range thereby scoring Charlton’s second try which Tommy Nightingale, putting his previous misses behind him, converted.
The old adage about taking care and not relaxing after scoring almost proved to be correct when following a Charlton error at the restart, in their attempts to clear the ball they made a loose pass that was intercepted. Gosport’s backs then illustrated vividly why, despite losing both their opening matches, they have secured two try bonus points and it required desperate defending including a last ditch tackle prevented a try. This near scare was the precursor of a period of sustained Gosport pressure that saw them finally, after a number of phases outflank the Charlton defence to score a converted try.
To set Charlton’s spectators and the teams nerves jangling Gosport dealt with restart kick extremely well and following rampaging driving take play straight back into Charlton’s twenty two metre area, where once again it required a last ditch tackle to deny them a second score in the space of two minutes. It was only a final forward pass from Gosport that stopped them scoring a second try of the half after they had charged down an attempted clearance kick from Miller.
Following a break out of defence by Sanderson Charlton drove up field but they were unable to generate any real momentum as they kept being penalised for misdemeanours at the break down. With play fluctuating it was in the closing seconds of the half Reion Rabye created a good scoring opportunity after a typical 40 metre run but unfortunately for Charlton they were unable to retain control of ball having split the Gosport defence.
Charlton Park made a disastrous start to the second half when they were unable to stop a robust drive by Gosport down field and when the ball was released the visitors showed good speed of foot and passing skills to run the ball from over fifty metres to score their second try of the match.
It was yet another error from Charlton that saw them kick the ball through into the Gosport twenty two metre area but the visitors were more than equal to the threat and once again showed the quality of their back play when they ran the ball back and following fine continuity and interplay scored their third try of the game to take the lead.
It was Gosport’s turn to make an error at the restart when they gave way a long range penalty which Charlton, wishing to try and restore some momentum tried to kick unsuccessfully it turned-out. The miss however proved to be the catalyst for Charlton retaking the lead when Sam Baker, who had been prominent all-round the pitch charged down the subsequent drop out and Charlton was awarded a scrum ten metres from the Gosport try line. With a solid attacking base Charlton’s backs showed their handling prowess when slick interchanges put wing Ade Aderiye into space and a one on one basis and following him breaking the attempted tackle he touched the ball down for Charlton’s third try of the afternoon.
With Gosport in search for a fourth try and achieving their first win of the season another moment of inattention almost cost Charlton Park dearly when a careless pop pass close to Charlton line almost gifted Gosport a fourth try and it required resolute defending and tackling from Charlton to neutralise the scoring opportunity.
It was following a fracas in midfield with a large percentage of players from both sides being involved that saw one player from both sides being shown a red card including a front row player from Gosport. The result of this action was that with Gosport already losing a front row player with injury scrums were reduced to an unopposed basis thereby changing the dynamics of the game.
Playing only his second league match it was Miller who was going to provide the momentum for Charlton winning the game; first he created a good scoring opportunity for Rabye with an astute kick through and when following a lineout close to the Gosport line he intercepted a pass and dived over to score Charlton’s fourth try and in the process earning the team a try bonus point. Nightingale added the extra points.
The last minutes of the match saw almost continual play in Charlton’s half as Gosport went in search of fourth try but Charlton’s defence held with baker to the fore including a fine turn over at a critical moment in the game.
Charlton, next Saturday visit Dover hoping to maintain their winning impetus.